OUR LIGHT AFFLICTION


When the Bible talks about our light affliction, what is it saying? Is it talking about every bad thing we experience as humans? Is it talking about the after-effects of our wrong choices? Sometimes, Christians who are poor think poverty is their light afflictions but we must define what light affliction is in the context of what the Bible is talking about. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:17

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Light affliction is not the general problems that humans go through; it is the discipline, discomfort and contentment that we are willing to endure for the sake of Christ. Light affliction is not a misfortune but the sacrifice of self for the sake of our faith. The Bible says in the previous verses in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

“We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

There are times we are pressed on every side, this pressing might be an experience of discomfort and even lack; not because we lack ideas but because we have prioritized Jesus over every other thing. There are times we might get confused because we left so many things behind just to live and walk with Jesus and it seems we aren’t being rewarded, there are times we get persecuted and rejected because we decide to stand on God’s word rather than subscribe to the world’s unhelpful philosophies and there are times we get struck down and beaten! This is what the Bible refers to as light affliction. Not all afflictions you experience as a believer is a light affliction.

For example, the believer may be poor not because he is a believer but because he didn’t work on the ideas he had. The believer may not give birth to children, not because she is a believer but because she isn’t medically fit to have a baby. A Christian may fail exams and not do well in school, not because of their faith but because they didn’t study hard. These things are general human problems they are afflictions but not the “light affliction” that God’s word talks about. 

Let’s see it this way: It is painful to be pregnant for nine months but these pains can never surpass the joy of carrying your baby and watching the baby grow! It is a kind of light affliction in the human sense because it is not something you are perpetually going to experience for the rest of your life. Your baby will outlive the nine months of pain and the travails of motherhood become a shout of joy. A student must be willing to go through years of discipline and commitment but if you can pull through to the end, the glory of being skilful in your area of study can’t be compared with what you went through.

Now, let’s bring it to the Christian context. Light afflictions aren’t truly your unfortunate experiences of life which every other person goes through regardless of who they are. Being wealthy or being poor has nothing to do with religion or race. Your light affliction as a believer is the carrying of your cross and following Jesus. For example, friends may leave you because of your faith in Christ, families may reject you because of your faith and you may deny yourself certain pleasures and opportunities just because it is a compromise of what you believe. However, the promise we have is that they are light afflictions as long as they are for the sake of Christ and it is an introduction to an eternal weight of glory.

The Bible says that we should present our bodies as living sacrifices. Sacrifices are normally dead for them to be used but we are living sacrifices in the sense that we have a choice, we can decide to walk away but then we willingly give up our rights, pleasure and time for the sake of Christ and for the sake of others whom Christ has committed to us. This means we may have opportunities for revenge but because our life isn’t our own anymore we stay clear of vengeance! This means we may get opportunities to engage in illegal means of living a wealthy life but because we have been laid on the altar of Christ, we give up such opportunities.

Sometimes, we are too afraid to go through our light affliction, but for every glory, there must be willingness to endure something! For every fame, there is a shame attached to it. Just like you must go through pains to bear a child and go through the stress of schooling just to obtain certain knowledge, skills and get certified; you must also go through certain light afflictions as a Christian but these things don’t last forever! It is just for a time. This may never sound like what you want to hear but if you desire the glory, you must be willing to bear the shame! You must be willing to get rejected by friends, to be laughed at because of what you believe and be criticized! Jesus never promised that it would be easy, He said in Matthew 16:24

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your way, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Picking up the cross doesn’t mean the burdens of life. It would be pride to say that the problems you are going through which is common to everybody are a “cross” that you are carrying for the sake of Christ. The cross isn’t the natural burdens of life but the willingness to lay down your own life for the sake of Christ. This doesn’t mean you must experience extreme consequences of following Christ but it means that you “must be willing” to experience these things if they come. Jesus passed through His light affliction but each time He looked ahead to see the weight of glory waiting for Him, He kept enduring.

For everything you go through for the sake of Christ, there is a weight of glory waiting for you! I don’t know what that glory is, I don’t know when it is going to come but one thing I know is that even this entire life will not be enough to contain it.  You are meant to endure your light affliction, you are meant to stay through it and your light affliction is your capital for glory! You cannot evade the process of glory and the path to glory is filled with ups and downs, it isn’t smooth. Greatness becomes a curse for anyone who skipped through all the process to the top. It is these processes that train us for greatness.

Your light affliction is the journey to destiny. Abraham had a promise but he lived all his life without seeing that promise manifest the way he might have envisioned it but he trusted God and kept walking! Today, we are called the Children of Abraham. As a believer, you outlive this earth and even if you have to endure these afflictions all through your stay on earth, there is always a greater hope! The Apostles went through all manner of persecutions but they were looking at the weight of glory ahead of them, they were seeing these glories in Jesus!

No wonder Paul said “to die is gain but to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21) and no wonder Stephen saw Jesus when he was being stoned to death (Act 7:56). Their eyes were all on Jesus and not on the afflictions. People’s rejection of you because of your faith isn’t an indication that you are doing something wrong, it is a sign that you are on your way to being crowned with glory. How to live through the light afflictions is to fix our gaze on Jesus. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:2

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne”

There is a joy awaiting you after the afflictions, some of these joy starts from this earth but it doesn’t end on earth because the glory is eternal! Some of us live in the parts of the world where we may have to die for the sake of Jesus while some live in the part of the world where the worst they would experience is to be rejected by friends and families but whatever class you fall into, Jesus said in Luke 18:29-30

“no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30will fail to receive many times more in this age—and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Take a look at Joseph, he had a dream and all the while he was dreaming, he never knew there was a price to pay for that kind of glory but we know the end of the story for Joseph, we know what became of him later and we know that whatever he went through was a means to glory. Sometimes, your light affliction is experienced in service too! There are times it is not so interesting to serve, there are times telling people about Jesus becomes dangerous to the flesh, there are times we have to make sacrifices and do something the flesh doesn’t want. But because we know where we are going, we can endure that light affliction. If we can’t endure it, we wouldn’t have been asked to do so.

Your light affliction may be staying hungry because you had to give to the poor, it may be getting rejected by friends and family, it may be getting persecuted in your workplace or by the government because you stand firm in Jesus, it may those times people laugh at you and call you a coward because you have chosen to love your enemies… Whatever your light affliction is, you can walk through it and always remember, after the night comes the morning. The affliction is light because the weight of glory attached to it is nothing to be compared!

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:10

“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory through Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”

God bless you!

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HOW TO WALK IN GODLY WISDOM


Previously we had discussed what wisdom is and we can assuredly say that the process of wisdom involves procuring knowledge, discerning the information received and then acting on what we have understood. Let us succinctly look at how we can walk and operate in godly wisdom!

  • KNOWLEDGE AND REVERENCE FOR GOD

Knowledge is a step towards wisdom and the right knowledge is a step towards godly wisdom. This means that in getting knowledge, we must allow it to always pass through the filter of God’s word and this way we are being built correctly. The Bible says in Proverbs 1:7

“To have knowledge, you must first have reverence for the LORD. Stupid people have no respect for wisdom and refuse to learn.” 

Knowing God is the first thing to consider when gathering knowledge, this will help us discern certain things. For example, when you understand that God is love, it shapes your response to certain challenges that happen in your life. What you know about God will greatly determine how you interpret life. When we acknowledge God and His precepts, we will see and respond to life situations differently.

Some people think it is childish and senseless to acknowledge God because it doesn’t add up so much to the sense! They seem to think it is wise to stand on neutral ground and never offend anyone with our belief in God, they seem to think it sounds like a fairy tale even when they feel an emptiness and confused about life. The Bible calls them “stupid” not as to sound offensive but because their disregard for God is simply a disregard for Godly wisdom and as long as they don’t open up their heart to learn about God, they will continue wallowing in ignorance thinking they are wise. The Bible says in Psalm 14:1

Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!”

One of the things that lack of reverence for God does to a man is that it also affects how they relate to others. They don’t see anything wrong in unhealthy competition, they see nothing wrong in vengeance, they see forgiveness and humility as weakness and in this way, they are given to corruption and evil actions without remorse because they believe they are not accountable to anyone. The knowledge of God is what enters into a man and begin to drive the man into God’s original purpose for him and when a man begins to apply God’s word, he starts to showcase the new man he has become on the inside. This can’t be possible for someone who doesn’t revere God! In other words, the Bible says elsewhere in Proverbs 9:10

“To be wise you must first have reverence for the LORD. If you know the Holy One, you have understanding.”

Remember, we initially saw that the knowledge of God should come first before any other kind of knowledge and here we see a more profound statement that indicates reverence for God as the principal source of godly wisdom. Reverence for God is a product of the knowledge of God! Read that verse carefully and you will discover that when we know God, we revere Him and when we know God, we receive understanding! I told us initially that the knowledge of God helps us to interpret life correctly and in our previous article, we saw that understanding simply means discernment or correct interpretation of knowledge. The knowledge of God helps us to interpret every other information and here the Bible records that reverence for God which is the beginning of wisdom is a result of the knowledge of God.

This is the longest part of this article because it is key to unlocking every other thing! Jesus said something very important in John 8:32

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

It is not everything you know that becomes a power of freedom for you, it is the truth you know that guarantees your freedom! Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), He is the knowledge we are seeking about God and to know Him is to know God. Now, the knowledge of Jesus is all there is to know about God but then this knowledge also gives us the understanding we need about life in its entirety. The moment we know and revere Him, we are open to the other aspects of the mastery of wisdom. Wisdom isn’t a skill, it is a virtue that God has put in every one of us but this wisdom needs the right knowledge and understanding to be correctly activated. It is the knowledge that determines whether we are functioning by the flawed wisdom of men or by Godly wisdom.

We will be looking at the other accompanying ways we can truly walk in godly wisdom. Our anchor text is James 3:17-18

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

Now let’s take it one after another

  • RIGHTEOUS LIVING

The Greek word used for wisdom in James 3:17 is “Sophia”, this happens to be my favourite female name! This wisdom is identified by its purity! Above all other things, it is first of all pure and that is to say; it is identified by righteous living. To live right is not something you wait for God to force you into, it is something you decide by yourself because you have been empowered from the inside out to live right. We saw earlier that human wisdom is full of greed, self, lust and so on but Godly wisdom is directly the opposite.

 The Bible says in Philippians 2:12-13

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act to fulfil his good purpose.”

The beautiful thing about living right is that God is working in us to produce good fruits and therefore we have no other excuse. When we resist temptations, resist taking of a bribe, resist sexual immorality, help the vulnerable, protect the weak, give to the poor and do various other good things God wants us to do, we are walking in godly wisdom. It only takes reverence (some translations says “fear and trembling”) for God to truly work out the fruits of righteousness already in us.

  • PEACE-LOVING | Gentle, Reasonable & Submissive

God is a lover of peace, the Old Testament may not have captured His peaceful nature so well but when we look at Jesus and how He got along so well with just everyone, we can learn of God’s peace. Jesus accepted everyone, He hated the religious system of that time solely because it was preventing people from coming on to Him! Jesus settled issues, never condemned anyone and even talked the fanatics out of stoning a woman who was caught in adultery. To walk in peace is also to walk in Godly wisdom. It can’t be said to be wisdom when it loves war and death, it can’t be said to be wisdom when it is full of hate. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:14

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.”

I told us earlier that we are the ones who decide to live right intentionally as God wouldn’t force it on us. In the same manner, the Bible asks us to make every manner of effort to live in peace with everyone. We may be called cowards, we may be regarded as weak but we can still make every effort to stay at peace with all men, whether Muslims, pagans, atheist or people who don’t subscribe to our definition of marriage. As bad as anyone is, the Bible says we should be peace-loving. To be peace-loving means to know how to get along so well with everyone. When we stop being judgmental and start getting along with people, we are walking in Godly wisdom.

Peace is characterized by respecting others, approaching them with gentleness and being reasonable with them You don’t have to agree with anyone to respect them and you don’t have to force your opinion down anyone’s throat. For more insight into this, read my article “4 Tips To Maintaining Positive Impression In A Conversation.”

  • BE MERCIFUL

Throughout the Bible, there are several teachings on the subject of mercy and forgiveness. Godly wisdom demands that we exercise forgiveness at all times. Mercy isn’t just forgiveness, it means compassionate forgiveness. Certain people would forgive you but still have some mean feelings towards you but people who chose to walk in godly wisdom are merciful at all times. I wouldn’t want us to start citing several places in the Bible but let’s take a look at  Luke 6:36

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

God is your father and if you want to operate in His wisdom, you ought to imitate His character. God loved us so much and came in the person of Jesus to pay for our sins, He came even when we never opted to love Him! In the same manner, it is not in human wisdom to show compassion but it is in God’s wisdom to show compassion! You can’t separate God’s wisdom from His mercy. His mercy is an element of His wisdom. The Bible says in Romans 12:2

“Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

There is no mercy in the world, the wisdom of this world only gives guides to vengeance but we can act like God by allowing Him to transform the way we think by learning God’s word! This is how to walk in Sophia! We already have God’s wisdom in us as believers but we can only bring it into reality by walking in the examples God has set for us.

  • DON’T DISCRIMINATE

Throughout the life of Jesus, we see something very spectacular! Jesus never discriminated between the despised Samaritans and Jews, Jesus never discriminated against people because of where they come from because He didn’t see anyone through the lens of the world. This is God’s wisdom! We don’t have to treat people based on where they were born or what they were born into. The Bible says in Acts 15:9

God doesn’t discriminate between Jewish and non-Jewish people. He has cleansed non-Jewish people through faith as he has cleansed us Jews.”

If we are God’s children, why not act like God? Why discriminate people because of their weakness? Why discriminate people because of gender? In Leviticus 19:34, we see God give them a law that expressed who He is. He said to them

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

This is God’s desire; that we see people as He sees them! Whether rich, whether poor, whether black or white, whether male or female, God wants us to treat people equally and rightly regardless of the experiences we have had with anyone in the past. When we walk in Godly wisdom among men, the Bible says we will reap a harvest of righteousness because we walk in peace. God’s wisdom is portrayed so much in peace and love. The Message translation puts it this way

“…You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour.”

The harvest of righteousness is the result we get from being peaceful with others. Our actions go a long way to develop a community that lives right with God. It is not easy to get along with others, it is not easy to treat others with dignity and honour especially in the face of disagreements but we can always do this when we keep allowing God’s word to transform us and change our minds.

  • ASK FOR WISDOM

You can ask for wisdom if you feel you lack it! One way God answers such prayers is to reveal more and more of His word to you until it becomes part of your consciousness, this goes beyond your understanding. The Bible says in James 1:5-6

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

What does the Bible mean when it says “if any of you lacks wisdom…?” The Message translation says “If you don’t know what you’re doing…” Remember I wrote earlier that wisdom is the practice of already discerned knowledge, it is the right application of knowledge when it is necessary and where it is necessary. Now the Bible is saying “when you are finding it hard to apply wisdom or when it seems you struggle to do the right thing, you should ask God for the ability.” Wisdom is a gift from God and you can receive it if you ask for it.

Knowing so much of the Bible isn’t an indication that you are wise, it is when you properly act on that knowledge that wisdom is expressed. So, it isn’t out of place to always ask for the manifestation of God’s strength through you in doing the word and doing the right things at the right time. Wisdom is not an assumption, it is not about thinking that we know everything. When we pray for God’s wisdom, we are simply discarding our understanding and leaning on God’s understanding. There are times you just don’t know what to do because your understanding isn’t enough. At times like this, you can pray to God for wisdom. Praying for wisdom simply means you are putting your trust in God and not leaning on your understanding. The Bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.”

You can walk in godly wisdom today! It isn’t about sounding intelligent, it isn’t about saying great stuff, it is also about living like Jesus and showing the world the love of God in the way they have never seen it before. Walk in the wisdom of God today! Let “Sophia” become a literal part of your everyday expression!

God bless you!

PODCAST | THE SPIRIT OF JESUS


“the Spirit of truth…But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” – John 14:17

We all believe that the Holy Spirit is a person but sometimes it seem we don’t know who He is. Our poor understanding of Him usually stops at “He is a person” but who exactly? What is His name? What is He coming to do? Is He inferior or superior to Jesus?

What you were never told is the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, He is God’s way of taking residence in us. His name is still Jesus! In this teaching, I will be sharing with you what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit and we will be grasping this truth on a whole new level!

It is not a new revelation, it is just that same ancient words that is ever true. You will also learn how to manifest God’s fullness because you are His instrument of expression!

It’s free! Listen to or download this teaching now!

WHEN YOU FACE TRIBULATIONS


Many times we allow things that aren’t important to distract us from the real reason why we were made by making them very important. When God gives us a task, it is only our focus on that task that can truly get us going to the finishing line. Those who focus on their given task finishes strong but those who allow distraction don’t continue in the race. While distraction is a major reason people fail to fulfil a purpose, another reason people fail to fulfil a purpose is that they are walking alone and they often want to walk alone either because of how they have been treated in the past or because of how they have been betrayed.

Well, regardless of the betrayal and broken heart, aloneness is never an option. God never designed man to walk alone, Jesus never came walking alone and people who walk alone can never build and build to the finish. Of all the options you have in life, aloneness isn’t one of them. You need people as much as people need you and most importantly you need to stay hopeful. Let’s talk how to walk through the moment of tribulations. The Bible says in Proverbs 13:12:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”

When hope becomes crushed, the heart becomes sick, the mind becomes unmotivated and depression begins to set in. This means that at all cost, you must keep your hope alive! Dreams don’t get fulfilled when hope is crushed, it is in the presence of hope that you are motivated to keep moving, to keep running until you win! One inevitable thing in life is what you don’t wish for; tribulation! What about it? The Bible says in John 16:33

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus never promised that we would live without tribulation, He never promised us a life without troubles and sorrow! But amid that trial, he said we can have peace in Him and how do we do that? It is by taking heart and standing on the reality of Christ’s victory over the world. To take heart means to be courageous! We can be courageous in the face of tribulations, they will surely come as long as we are on earth but they can’t destroy us if we lay hold on Christ’s victory over this world and its systems. If you must live for Jesus, the time will come when you just have to give up certain pleasures, friends and some good life for a greater purpose. This is the price we pay, not for the anointing or salvation but as a result of our convictions. Anyone who truly wants to follow Jesus must be ready to give up himself because, at some point, you would never be world friendly.

The beautiful thing Jesus promised us is that we can be courageous when we are faced with these things and the problems will not last forever. In the face of tribulation, what do we do? The Bible says in James 1:2

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”

There are so many kinds of troubles, they come in various shapes and sizes but it is what we see in these troubles that matter or shape our reality. When they come, the Bible says you should consider it an opportunity for great joy! As for the troubles, they will surely come in diverse manners but you must develop the attitude of joy and this joy comes from your trust in God and not from the mere satisfaction of life. When things are going fine with you, don’t laugh at those who are having troubles or try blaming them for what they are going through. Put yourself in their shoes, show empathy and do something about it. Your own time of trials would come and you may also need them!

Following Jesus comes with some degree of sacrifice, people will laugh at you on the social media, friends wouldn’t want to go places with you, some fellow Christians will mock you! At some point, you will be forced to question your stand! However, you must know that these are prices you have to pay for your convictions. The only way you can find rest in the series of tribulation is to focus on what God is saying rather than what the situation is saying. God’s word isn’t suggestive on how we should live, it is showing us the exact way to live. Living God’s way isn’t usually awesome to the flesh but it subjects our flesh to discipline! In the midst of it all, you can still enjoy God’s rest.

Christ gives us freedom but this isn’t freedom for everything but freedom from sin and death. This is where the yoke of Christ comes in! The yoke of darkness drags us downwards but the yoke of Christ leads us to destiny through the path of purpose! In Christ. The freedom Christ gives isn’t freedom for everything but freedom from sin, death and darkness. Being in Christ doesn’t mean we are entirely free from tribulations and when we go through all manner of trials, there are eternal implications. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:17

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”

The Bible isn’t suggesting that we might experience troubles, it is telling us that we will surely experience troubles but that we can eventually pull through knowing that they are just small compared to the eternal glory that will be produced of them. God’s salvation has nothing to do with giving us certain material things but rather about having us to himself. When the Bible says that God has given us all that pertains to life and Godliness, it wasn’t talking about money or food but about the life of God, we have received to live like Him. God has empowered us to live by His standards. The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:3

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself using his marvellous glory and excellence.”

Do you see that? By coming to know Him, we receive all that pertains to life and godliness which He has given us. Jesus is all things that God has to give, He is that life and He is also the truth that sets us free! When Jesus promised the Disciples that they would become fishers of men, it might have sounded like a big business deal but it was more than that anyway it wasn’t about their career, it was beyond it! They had to sacrifice their awesome career, it was a trying moment for them too! No wonder Jesus told a rich man in Mark 10:22 to use all he has for eternal purpose! When Jesus asked him to sell all he had if he must follow Him, Jesus was saying “if you can’t sacrifice your pleasure, you can’t follow me!” This is why Jesus said it is hard for people who hold on to their wealth above all things to find God. People who trust their riches cannot trust God because God will, first of all, take you away from those distractions, make you let go of your trust in yourself before you can trust him.

God fought with Jacob until he came to an end of himself and received a new identity. The true meaning of godliness is coming to the end of yourself and we cannot undermine the place of contentment as believers. During tribulation times, many people tend to lose patience, they tend to seek ways outside God’s will and sometimes they even seem to pray prayers that aren’t according to God’s will. It is in times of lack that contentment is proven. Contentment is also the ability to give up certain things and not just the ability to stay without certain things. In Mark 10:28-29, Peter wondered what their fate was after they had left everything to follow Jesus and Jesus assured him that those who have left things for his sake will receive a hundredfold in the present and in the age to come.

You shouldn’t be lost in the quest of getting things! You should focus on living for Jesus, in leaving and giving things up for Him. There are a present and future reward for people who are ready to give up something. Persecutions will always be there to train you! Persecutions will purify and refine you. God leads you through various experiences and lessons in the face of tribulations. Some tribulations may teach you how to manage resources better, how to stay humble even when the world starts bowing to you and how to live in absolute contentment. Sometimes, God trains you with tribulations and in these times, your confidence is that God is with you and that He has got you covered! The Bible says in Hebrews 10:38-39

“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

There are times when believing God becomes so hard because of what we are feeling in the flesh and many times people shrink back when they had nearly crossed that phase of life! You truly don’t belong to those who shrink back. No matter how much your soul has suffered, Jesus is the saviour of your soul and not you, why not just trust Him? If you have given Him everything, then allow Him to do it the way He wants. You can pull through, you can stay joyful regardless of the weight of the tribulation and the Bible tells us how to keep standing!

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne.” – Hebrews 12:2

Our eyes shouldn’t be on things, on men, on the government, on people’s promises but strictly on Jesus! He is the champion, the initiator and the one who perfects our faith! We can always look at what He did and do like Him. The Bible says He endured the cross, He disregarded the shame but now He is honoured! In the same way, we can ignore the shame that comes with the tribulations and we can ignore the mockery that comes with it. People may say God has forsaken us, they may say our God can’t save us, they may even say there isn’t any God but we shouldn’t let those things discourage us, we should stay joyful knowing that these things result in an eternal weight of glory!

God isn’t pleased when you face tribulation and decided to back down or lose hope in Him. He takes delight when you stand, He rejoices when you stand on the victory He already delivered to you! You express absolute trust in Him when you look up to Jesus and God finds it pleasing. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

We please God in the face of tribulations by looking up to Jesus and not to things! What is your life pursuit? When you pray, what dominates your mind? When you are in Christian gatherings, what is it that you come for? Are you seeking for an easy escape from tribulations or are you ready to keep looking and waiting on God? Are you lost in the world’s way of seeking success and pursuing vanity?

When we fix our eyes on Jesus even in the face of tribulation, we are saying “Lord, I know you are good even in hard times and I know you are working all things together for my good. Therefore, I am looking up to you because I trust you with my life.” All things truly aren’t yours to get, it is God’s give and He promised that when you seek the kingdom and its righteousness, all other things shall be added to you and Jesus promised that your father in heaven cares about your needs.

Do you know one of the ways to express confidence in your trying times? Reach out to people who need more rather than focus on your problems. Be concerned about the poor than focus on what you don’t have, contentment is shown in our ability to give others when we don’t have much. Have you forsaken everything to follow God? Then keep trusting Him! Let Him be your priority. In simple words, the best thing to do in the place of tribulation is to keep pursuing Jesus.

Blessings!

~ George O.N

DOES GOD FORGET OUR SINS?


Does God truly forget our sins? The simple answer would be “of course, God has dealt with the issue of sin, He has forgiven AND FORGOTTEN!” We appropriate this truth by believing and walking in its consciousness. Now let’s look at a detailed explanation.

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” – Romans 3:23-24

The aim of Romans 3:23 isn’t to put it in our face that we are sinners but to show us that despite our sins, despite our fall from God’s glory, God has freely made us right with Himself. Not because we were able to do right but because Jesus Christ freed us from the spiritual consequences of our sins. This is how sin has lost its power! We are judged now based on what Jesus has done. Based on this, Jesus said in John 3:17-18

“God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Now you see that? God’s purpose in sending Jesus isn’t to judge us or tell us how bad we were but to save us through Him! We are justified by faith in the finished works of Jesus and not by any kind of efforts. The Bible clearly shows us how God has made His judgment. This is how: anyone who believes has been declared free and what exactly are we to believe? The Bible tells us in John 3:16

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

We should believe that God loves us despite all odds, that Jesus proceeds from the father and has been given as the propitiation for our sins, that what Jesus did is enough and that we are saved in Him! The Bible says “everyone who believes…” It doesn’t matter who and what he or she has done, Jesus is mighty to save! God has dealt with the issue of sin entirely, once and for all as the Bible says in Romans 6:10

“When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.”

 And Jesus said on the cross in John 19:30

“It is finished!”

God’s forgiveness and forgetfulness of our sins isn’t an indication that He is suffering memory loss but it indicates the length and breadth with which He has forgiven our sins. He chose to forget it, He chose to see us on a clean slate! He doesn’t see our past because it is gone! He sees us as new creatures who are as clean as Jesus! He sees us in Jesus! God said in Isaiah 43:25

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”

God didn’t just promise to deal with sin, He promised never to think about them again! He doesn’t have the record of our sins and as long as we are in Jesus, He isn’t judging us as sinners anymore. So why stay on that sin consciousness? Why keep mourning a past that doesn’t belong to us anymore? The Psalmist after seeing this vision of what God would do in the New Testament wrote in Psalms 103:12

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

God has removed our sins, He didn’t just forgive us, He didn’t just overlook it, He removed it entirely and we became brand new and became born of a seed that can never be corrupted by sin (1 Peter 1:23). I don’t know how this sounds to you, I don’t know if you feel very uneasy that God isn’t legalistic as you ever thought but these aren’t my own words but the gospel!

What you feel about sin and people will not change what God has done about it! Does this give people a license to sin? No, it empowers people to break free from the consciousness of sin and start walking in the deliverance God has given to them! Our belief system has a lot to do with our actions. Concerning God’s grace, the Bible says in Titus 2:11-12

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.”

The revelation of God’s grace is the only power that turns people from godless and sinful pleasures and the way to live in this world as Christians are to live with wisdom, righteousness and devotion to God! How? By not focusing on our past but by fixing our eyes on Jesus who authored our faith and will see it to completeness. People had been sinning before God’s grace was revealed, they needed no license to sin and therefore Grace didn’t give people license to sin, it rather showed people a way out of sin.

By believing that we need a saviour, we are also agreeing with God on His judgement on sin! We can’t say we need a saviour if we don’t want to get done with sin! Does this mean believers don’t make mistakes? Does it mean that believers are people who are perfect physically? No! As believers, the perfection of Jesus has been credited to us and anytime we do wrong the Bible assures us in Romans 8:34

“Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honour at God’s right hand, pleading for us.”

God justified us not because we were able to do anything right but because we have put our trust in Him and accepted Jesus! The Bible says the just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17)! Again, the Bible says in 1 John 2:1

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the truly righteous one.”

Now, I repeat the words of my friend Don’t kill yourself with guilt; God has no record of your sin anywhere. He has forgiven you so forgive yourself and move on.” Why not walk in the light of what Jesus has done for you and never let the devil keep accusing you! Remember, the devil isn’t any better! If he reminds you of your past, remind him of his future! 

When we say God has forgiven and forgotten, we mean that God has chosen to remove your sins and see you as He sees Jesus! When Paul wrote about love, he was writing in the light of God’s love which keeps no record of wrong (1 Corinthians 13:5).

Why exactly did God saved us from sin and forgot that we ever sinned? Why did God wipe our records of sin? In Isaiah 43:25, God said He is doing this for the sake of His name! He is doing it for His pleasure and we cannot do anything to change His mind on this! He enjoys Himself by offering salvation, it is what He loves doing, it is His hobby and it has got nothing to do with how you feel God should have done it.

Blessings!

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SHOULD WE IGNORE SINFUL CHURCH PASTORS?


Should we ignore sinful pastors?

Don’t be shocked when a Pastor, Deacon or Bishop is caught in sin. It is not new, it has been happening a long time ago. Sometimes, they are wrongly accused, sometimes their past catches up with them, sometimes it was just a mistake and sometimes they are habitually and willingly engaging in it. First, they are humans and they have those tendencies just like every human. But then, that isn’t an excuse because there is a guideline for those who desire that office and they are supposed to strictly abide by those guidelines.

Many people usually believe that when an Elder or a teacher in Church is being criticized over a statement or an action, it is a fight against the Church but on the other hand, it may not be. Anyone who has been set above others in some sense will always attract public praise or public criticism. If you have no problem with public praise, you shouldn’t have a problem with public criticism. If you are a leader that people looks up to, you are part of their business and therefore you shouldn’t feel some people aren’t minding their business when they make a public discourse of you. Concerning this, the Bible says in James 3:1:

“Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

You don’t expect people to react to the misdeeds of a leader or instructor less than they would have done towards a commoner. So much is required of Elders and leaders. Although the requirements should apply to all, these special requirements are heavy on elders and leaders in the Church. The reason is that people will usually be modelled after the leaders who are icons in society and therefore should set an example that is beneficial to the body of Christ. The office of Elders and Church leaders is a very peculiar one that must be threaded carefully. Concerning anyone desiring this office, the Bible says

“…Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.  Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[ respect.  (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap.”

Being an elder is a noble task and it is worthy of desire! However, the above verse shows us how much is required of a person who desires this office. He must be morally sound and above all must have a good reputation with outsiders which includes unbelievers. This verse also indicates that a bad reputation can bring the minister into disgrace and the devil’s trap! This is the same reason why James wrote that the elder or teacher is judged with much more strictness. Now, how do we handle a sinning elder? How do we respond when an elder is going through discipline as a result of wrong deeds?

Sometimes, God rebukes a straying son by various means. His rebuke is that of love and He doesn’t leave him in the wilderness to die! He brings him back to his senses but also takes him back home. We can do the same by praying for other believers who are caught up in the web of mistakes and wickedness. We all know what the works of the flesh are but we also know that the works of the Spirit include love. As much as we admit a problem, and allow people to have a taste of rebuke sometimes, we must also accord them the opportunity to heal and become better!

A loving father may beat a child for doing wrong but he draws the child back and say “I hate to see you cry but I had to do it for your good.” Someone may beat up a sinning child not because she wants to bring this child to his senses but because she wants to leverage on that opportunity to vent her anger on the child. In the same manner, when a leader is caught up in the web of sin, certain people would use it as an opportunity to display their hatred while some others persons may be asking for discipline because of their love for the Church of Jesus Christ and their desire to see this leader or elder get restored.

Out of emotion, we often rob people of their period of rebuke and discipline! When I want to discipline my child, I will see anyone who tries to stop me as an enemy to my child! You can’t love my child more than I do and therefore your emotions may make you feel uneasy to watch me discipline my child while I am being compelled by love to make my child better. This is how it is between us and God. God may have given us several opportunities to change our ways from doing the wrong thing and we kept ignoring it. To help fix us and get us back right on track, God may have to discipline us with His kind of rod. God’s rod serves as a guiding tool which brings comfort after we have been rebuked! The Psalmist said in Psalms 23:24

“…or you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

It is not an act of love when we see someone going through God’s purifying fire and try dragging them out of it. We aren’t just fighting God, we are not helping that fellow. How do we handle a sinning elder; that is, an elder who commits sins that would distract others and cause factions in the body without repentance? Not about an elder who did something wrong a time ago but an elder who is habitually sinning? How do we handle it? Do we fall for the “do not judge” mantra or do we allow him or her go through God’s disciplinary process?

Sometimes, when God is disciplining someone dear to us, it doesn’t look amazing but God is simply in the process of restoring that fellow. When an elder is found doing something wrong, keeping quiet and hiding it under the carpet is not a show of love, some steps must be taken to ensure that he or she is restored. Remember, the only reason to rebuke and take disciplinary actions on elders especially is that we love them and want them restored. Certain people will not stop doing wrong until a strong action has been taken against their actions.

When we take actions against a sinning elder, we often hear things like “don’t judge a servant of God, let God judge His servants.” if this is true, how do we examine a false teacher? How do we consider someone qualified for ministry? Why would the Bible offer us rich guidelines on church leadership? Even Moses was taken out of leadership when he went against God’s will but then we would argue that it was under the law. What did the Bible say in the New Testament?

“Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others. I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the highest angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing favouritism to anyone.” 1 Timothy 5:19-21

Taking actions against a sinning leader or elder in the Church isn’t out of place as long as the motive is to save him from continuing, give them time for healing and get them restored. Being a leader, elder or bishop doesn’t keep us immune from disciplinary actions. As bad as it looks at times, this is an important way of keeping the Church environment safe for other Christians including new converts and a way of saving us from what is destructive. 

Are you looking for the right way to take actions against a sinning elder and sometimes a sinning Christian? Read our next article “7 WAYS TO DEAL WITH SINNING PASTORS”

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THE ESSENCE OF CHRISTIAN GATHERINGS


If you are very close to me or have been part of any group or organization that I have worked with, you surely do know one thing about me. It is how uncomfortable I become when I stay in a Christian gathering for too long and all they make out of their meetings are praying for money, making prophetic declarations for wealth and teaching only about prosperity and other material things. If what is being preached in most Churches today round the clock is what Christianity should be all about, God knows I would have walked through the path of atheism. No wonder God came to me when I was very young and no wonder God allowed His healing power surge through me to heal people instantly on a few occasions! If I had never had these personal encounters of God or have never heard Him speak directly to me through His word, I would have given up on Christianity. Why?

Some teachings and practices in today’s Churches have made it seem as though what is very easy for a wealthy man to do is difficult for God to do. I remember some years ago when my Dad had issues in business, a Pastor told me and my male siblings that we would fast for two days without water and food and that after the fast, God would release His wealth on a date he gave to us. I remember that what was made out of all the gatherings I ever encountered in that ministry was about money, healing, babies and so on! There was never a day when I came and grew in the knowledge of Jesus. The financial breakthrough became my sole reason for attending those gatherings. Well, after the fast and after some years past the date he gave to us, nothing happened.

I also remember all the years I attended “21 years days fire conference” at the beginning of each year where various ministers are invited to come. It was very rare to have someone come to teach us the word, it was hard to really say we grew in the knowledge of the word. The common experience was that after each meeting, we go home bouncing in the excitement that before the end of the programs, we would be receiving miracle credit alerts, miracle jobs, miracle babies and all manner of material miracles. I have never heard any testimony that says “I want to thank God because since I started attending this meeting, I have grown in the knowledge of the word of God and my perspective is changing.”

Our faith in Jesus shouldn’t be about getting things. It is time we come to the true knowledge of the gospel, where our gathering isn’t about receiving prophetic declarations for wealth in the week or for visas to travel out. The essence should be to understand the gospel and grow in maturity. The reason God has called people into ministering to the Saints is not for anything else but for growth and maturity in the word and the things of God and His kingdom.

It makes me cry each time I look at believers gather in their thousands but miss the true essence of those gatherings, I see it as amazing opportunities being wasted. How can we be in gatherings all Sundays and Wednesdays of the week and all we ever do is ask God for a release of wealth, a release of material things but never a cry to quench our thirst and hunger for more knowledge of Him.

You will never see me in any financial breakthrough crusades or 21 days breaking of ancestral curses. This is not because I don’t regard people who do such programs but it is because I have something I am pursuing, I am hungry for more, I want to know more of Jesus and I want to be in a place of a genuine experience of God’s presence and the truism of the gospel. I am very sure that Jesus didn’t come to make us materially richer to even solve the world’s physical problem.

This earth as it is was created perfectly by God but God handed over to the man and at some point He doesn’t even decide certain things! You are wondering why we have many poor people and God seems not to be doing something about it. Well, it is not His job! It is our own job to help the poor, protect the weak, cloth the naked and even love our enemies. Why? Because this earth belongs to us and it is what we make out of it that it becomes. Jesus said that whenever we offer assistance to the least people on earth, we are assisting Him. We are God’s vessels of sharing love to others and therefore we shouldn’t be asking God to play the part that we supposed to be playing. Our focus as Christians should be about becoming better outwardly as we have been made perfect inwardly, it should be about representing what the word of God talks about.

Call for meetings where God’s word is taught, you will see me there! Call for a prayer meeting geared towards thanksgiving, you will see me there. As much as I believe in miracles and don’t joke with it, as much as I have seen God’s power surge through my own hands to heal the sick, I don’t go about seeking for Miracles, what I seek is the quench of my thirst, I seek to know more than I have ever known and I seek to know Jesus beyond whatever I have experienced. This should be the expectation of believers but now believers are the ones acting like unbelievers, going here and there in search of miracles instead of being hungry for God, they are hungry for money! What did Jesus say?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

Do you see that? It is people without faith and with unbelief that go about worrying about what to eat, drink and wear! When we commit our hands to something, we are very sure that the works of our hands are blessed! (Deuteronomy 28:12) We are the answers to world problems, it is not something we make out of meetings designed to help solidify us in the place we stand! Throughout the Bible, we will never see a time Christians gathered to pray for money and fame! It didn’t stop people from making money but they were maximizing the true purpose of Church gathering! It is immaturity to make our meetings all about material things and miracles. The Bible says in Hebrews 6:1

“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding…”

The essence of our meetings should be to become mature in our understanding of Jesus and what He has done! Asking and crying for money doesn’t increase our understanding, we are only limiting God to the capacity of men because what we are asking is what mere men can do! It also showcases our worry over things we shouldn’t worry about. There should be a place of contentment in our everyday walk, there should be a place of thanksgiving regardless of our situations.

We weren’t given Pastors so that they could pray us into money, we weren’t given ministers so that they can pray us into marriage, awesome academic results and other material success! Truth is, unbelievers achieve these things without faith and without prayers, these things aren’t why Jesus came and why the Church became instituted. The Bible tells us why we have ministers of the gospel who are committed to the Church.

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” Ephesians 4:11-14

When a Pastor spends all the years of his pastoral ministry talking about material things and financial prosperity, he isn’t fulfilling the purpose of his calling. The only essence why ministers of the gospel are called is to equip God’s people to do a general work of reconciliation given to all believers. The duty of these ministers continues until that time when Jesus will come again, that time when we all come to unity in our faith and knowledge of Jesus. Miracle seekers are prone to fall into the hands of false prophets, they are prone to fall into the hands of tricky people! Jesus said concerning this in Matthew 24:24

“For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.”

Our hunger in God’s presence should be to know more of Him and not to get more money, more health, awesome partner and good education. It is very nice to work and make earnings, it is nice to have dreams and bring it to reality but we must know where we draw the line! Mere men can offer these things like money, education and so on but our pursuit of God should be about those things men cannot offer us.

Attending Church meetings shouldn’t be about getting our names on the register and having a group support us in funeral and so on. It is not about buying God’s favour for the month and receiving “monthly prophetic words for financial release.” It should be about hearing words and teachings that help us grow and mature. It should be about meeting people of like mind and fellowshipping with other saints! When we attend our Church meetings, we are also getting new opportunities to bear one another’s burden and belong to a community where iron sharpens iron!

Why do you go to Church? To get God’s favour or to grow in the knowledge of who God has already made you become?

God bless you.

~ George O.N

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